Today’s pie-making is much easier than it was for our ancestors who did not have the advantage of regulated heat in their ovens. One rule that guided them was “If you can hold your hand in the heated oven while you count to twenty” the oven was the right temperature for baking pastry.

The best pastry was made in the “cold room” where not only the ingredients but the board, the rolling pin, and even the hands, were cold enough to ensure that the

shortening would not soften until it was popped into the oven, resulting in the desired flakiness that was the measure of good pastry.

The above taken from: Out of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens by Marie Nightingale


Pastry   (Christine Shand)

2 cups flour
1 cup shortening ( Crisco or Tenderflake )
Bit of salt
8 Tbsp. very cold water

Measure flour and salt . Cut in shortening with pastry cutter. Add cold water all at once and mix.. Makes two or three pie shells according to size.
Bake in 350 degree oven until starting to brown.

Date Pie

Date Pie  (Edith Shand)

Cook 1/2 – 1 package dates ( add 2 or 3 Tbsp. Sugar and a piece of butter and salt before cooking)
Cover the above with water and cook until dates are soft.
Add vanilla, 2 egg yolks (beaten) and enough milk for one pie. (about 1&1/2 cups.)
Bake until set.
Put meringue or whipped cream on top.
Bake in 350 degree oven for approx. 35-40 minutes.

Mince Pies

Mince Pies

For more than 100 years in England, mince pies were the center of theological discussion and Puritanical

clergymen preached to their flocks to abstain from this unholy fare. We are happy to say that by the time the

English arrived in Nova Scotia, the mince pie had been cleansed of all sin and was able to take a place of

honour on the pie shelf.

The above taken from: Out of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens by Marie Nightingale


Mincemeat  ( Edith Shand)

Use deer meat or rabbit meat)
5 cups ground meat (pre-cooked)
5 cups brown sugar
1 cup molasses
2 pounds seedless raisins
1/2 cup vinegar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
7 cups apples, peeled and ground
2 oranges, 1 lemon (ground)
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 pound suet or shortening
1 (16 oz. can apple juice)

Note: Add more apple juice as it cooks to keep it from sticking and becoming too thick.
Cook about 3 hours on low heat. Use a heavy pan to prevent sticking.



It was not until the middle of the 19th century that the hearth with its bake oven was sealed off and the monstrous iron stove took its place in the kitchen.
For the wise mother who still insists that home-made bread is a necessity to her family’s health and enjoyment, bread-making is an easy task as compared to that of earlier days. Today we begin with prepared yeast, either in cake or granular form, but in the old days the yeast  had first to be made before thought could be given to making bread.
Making the yeast starter from hops and potatoes was a process that involved days, so care had to be taken to keep a supply always on hand. Kept tightly corked in stone jars and stored in a cool place, the yeast would stay sweet and fresh for a couple of months.

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

In 14th century, England, they were peddled through the streets to the old jingle “one a penny, two a penny, Hot Cross Buns”. Tradition has it that if two people share a hot cross bun, they will know true fellowship. Since hot cross buns were thought to have magical powers, sailors used to wear them around there necks as a protection against disease or shipwreck.

The above taken from: Out of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens by Marie Nightingale

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns.  (Viola Crowell)

1/2 cup water
1 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. dry yeast
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp. sugar
3&1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup margarine or butter
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1&1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup currants

Scald the milk and add the butter, sugar and salt. Cool to lukewarm. Add the yeast ( which has been dissolved in the 1/2 cup water and 1 tsp. sugar). Add half the flour and the cinnamon. Beat thoroughly. Add the egg. Stir in currants. Add rest of flour, to make dough just firm enough to handle and not stick to fingers. Toss on a lightly floured board and knead to smoothness. Shape into buns and pace in pan one inch apart. Cover with a cloth and let rise until double in size. Brush the tops with a beaten egg and bake in 375-400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. Ice with a cross of frosting while warm.

Never-Fail Biscuits

Never-Fail Biscuits.  (Mrs. Morton Smith)

4 cups flour
2/3 cup shortening
1 tsp. salt
8 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. Sugar
1&3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. Milk

Cut shortening into flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Add milk gradually. Knead on floured board to make smooth. Do not knead too much flour into dough. Roll and cut out. Bake 15 minutes in hot oven.

Steamed Brown Bread

Steamed Brown Bread.   (Ruth Kendrick)

2 cups flour
2 tsp. soda, sifted with flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 tsp. salt
1 cup molasses
2&1/2 cup cold water

Measure and mix the dry ingredients. Add molasses which has been mixed well with 1 cup cold water. Lastly stir in remaining 1&1/2 cup water and mix well. Pour into greased mold and steam for 3 hours.